Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6
Most servers in restaurants hate working on Sundays. It’s not so much that work interferes with their Sabbath. It’s the customers. You know them. You might be one. Yes, church people.
Church people are pretty obvious. Many are way overdressed to be relaxing on Sunday. This may be where Brookwood Church and similar churches have the advantage, since we don’t have a dress code. But, the after church dining time and the fried chicken orders still give us away.
The most obvious trait of church people is that they are poor tippers. Some are even heavy on the gospel tract, heavy on the complaints, and light on the tip. Ouch! (And, yet they wonder why they have to wait so long for a table…)
Over the years, I have had a number of friends who worked in restaurants. They hated it every Sunday. They would call in sick. They would feign death. They would get arrested on Saturday night, just to avoid encountering church people on Sunday. Okay, maybe they didn’t go that far, but you get the idea.
If we identify ourselves with Christ, then we need to show people what the Christ life is all about. If you are sporting a Jesus fish or a Brookwood tree on the back of your car, how’s your driving? Are you a courteous driver? (Please note: Letting 50 cars turn in front of you while you have traffic backed up for a mile is not courteous to the cars behind you. I’m just sayin’.) And, if you put the ICHTHUS on your business card, how would Jesus do business?
When Paul speaks of outsiders in this verse, he is talking about a hostile environment. Christians were very much the minority in the First Century A.D. The Romans had not embraced Christ at this point. Their interactions with outsiders weren’t just a matter of having a good testimony. Potentially, it was a matter of life and death. Did they act wisely? Did they give a good answer for their faith?
When I was much younger, I was afraid of having spiritual conversations with “outsiders.” I had no problem answering spiritual questions from believers. There was sort of a safety net. They were already “in,” if my answer wasn’t on par, then there was no fear of their eternal peril. But, non-believers were another matter.
If a non-believer asked me something, then I felt like I needed to fully answer their question, present the Romans Road, and close the deal before they could run away. But, what if I didn’t have a good answer? What if some doubt remained after our conversation? What if they passed into eternity and I hadn’t thoroughly prepared them? Panic.
Nowadays, I see things much differently. I understand that no one comes to Jesus unless the Father draws them (John 6:44). In that process, I am one tool in God’s toolbox. I am one link in the chain of conversations and events that will bring them into a relationship with Christ. Outcomes are up to God. They are certainly not up to me. I’m not that powerful (nor do I want to be).
But, even with the pressure off, we have a responsibility to outsiders. How can God use you to show His love to servers who wait on you? Do you offer to pray for your co-workers and neighbors? Do you lend a helping hand when you have the opportunity?
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